West Bank and Gaza - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property
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Several general principles are important for effective management of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the West Bank and Gaza. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP. Second, IP may be protected differently in the West Bank and Gaza than in the United States. Third, rights must be registered and enforced in the West Bank and Gaza under local laws. For example, your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in the West Bank and Gaza. There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends, basically, on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works in accordance with international agreements.

Patents are generally granted based on a first-to-file (or first-to-invent, depending on the country basis). Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file (or first-to-use, depending on the country), so you should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to the West Bank and Gaza market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in West Bank and Gaza. It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Palestinian laws. The U.S. Commercial Service in Jerusalem can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.

While the U.S. government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the U.S. Government can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a law suit. In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors. Projects and sales in the West Bank and Gaza require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Palestinian laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, both West Bank and Gaza or U.S.-based. These include:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Palestinian-American Chamber of Commerce
  • National Association of Manufacturers 
  • International Intellectual Property Alliance
  • International Trademark Association
  • International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
  • Biotechnology Innovation Organization  

In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our articles on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.

  • IP Attaché Contact For MENA Region

Name: Aisha Salem-Howey

U.S. Embassy

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Telephone: 971-2-414-2539

Email: aisha.salem-howey@trade.gov

  • For more information, contact ITA’s Office of Standards and Intellectual Property (OSIP) Director, Stevan Mitchell at Stevan.Mitchell@trade.gov.

To access the West Bank and Gaza Investment Climate Statement, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State 2023 Investment Climate Statement.

While the West Bank does not have a modern intellectual property rights (IPR) regime in place, it is even less developed in Gaza. The respective authorities are well aware of the problem and are beginning to address the issues involved. The World Bank and other international donor organizations have developed and are conducting programs to promote awareness of the financial and trade benefits to be derived from observing international IPR standards and are currently assisting in the development of modern IPR laws.